The Sri Lankan Government submitted a written demand for compensation of Rs. 1.69 billion from the UK Government for the 263 containers filled with waste that were imported to Sri Lanka in 2017, The Sunday Morning learnt.
The complaint letter was sent to the Basel Convention Secretariat under the United Nations (UN) Environment Programme, which oversees controlling transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, who will in turn co-ordinate the matter with the UK.
A total of Rs. 1,694,274,751 has been demanded as compensation for holding the waste containers in Sri Lanka over the past three years. Minister of Environment Mahinda Amaraweera on Tuesday (6) stated that in the years 2017-2018, a private company had imported 263 containers that were full of waste from the UK in violation of the regulations stipulated in the Basel Convention.
“According to the Basel Convention, waste can be transhipped from one country to another if a bilateral agreement is signed. However, investigations revealed that these waste containers were brought down to Sri Lanka through a Sri Lankan living in the UK with the assistance of a sibling who was based in Sri Lanka. We have therefore forwarded a written complaint on 6 October to the Basel Convention Secretariat demanding compensation,” Minister of Environment Amaraweera noted.
130 waste containers were held at the Katunayake Free Trade Zone while the rest of the 133 waste containers were held at the Colombo Port.
On 27 September, 21 waste containers out of the 133 that were held at the Colombo Port were shipped back to the UK following investigations.
With the assistance of Sri Lanka Customs, the rest of the 112 waste containers too will be shipped to the UK once the investigations are completed.